How to give dragan effect in portrait photo by using Adobe Photoshop CC


Most of the time we want to process our photos with much light and shadows all together. But if we add contrast only, it may make our photo a little black. Increase of black reduces the details of a photo. So in spite of increasing the contrast we can easily add much light and shadows in our photo using the curve. One of the most famous curve effect is “Dragan Effect”. So today we are going to learn about “Dragan effect”.

Here is the image which I am going to use to brief our “Dragan effect”.


Now we are going to process this picture in “Dragan effect”. So we are going to follow some steps to do this.


I am working with a RAW file. So it’s an easy way to process the photo as I want. At first you need to open the photo in Adobe Photoshop. To open it in Adobe Photoshop click on the “File”. Then click “Open” and select the photo. You can also open the photo by dragging it to the Photoshop field. If you photo is in desktop then “left click” on the photo and drag it to the Photoshop empty field. Then loose the “Left click”. So you inserted the photo in Photoshop.

Now you can see a dialogue box. Go to the “Camera calibration” menu and select the camera profile which you want to use. I used “Camera standard” profile for this one. It’s pretty good. Now I come back to the “Basic” and adjust the exposure, temperature, tint, shadow and highlights. I make this picture a little warm because the photo was taken in the afternoon, but the “White Balance” was wrong. You can also see I reduced the shadows. So it may seems to you that the contrast reduced by doing this. But the main fact is that we will add the contrast later by our “Dragan effect”. I also add much “Clarity” to the photo because I want it so sharp and also I added much “Vibrance”. Because increasing the “Clarity” reduces the saturation of the photo.

Here is the preview of the photo after the basic adjustment.


Click “Ok” to finish,


Creating a “Duplicate layer” is very easy and very useful for any kind of Photoshop work. It will preserve your original photo and edit the duplicated one. By this you can reverse the command too. To open a “Duplicate layer” go to the layer option and click “Duplicate layer”. You can see a “Background layer” in the layer dialogue box.



I am going to use my background layer to give the dragan effect, and since I’ll be adding a few more layers after that, let’s keep track of what I am doing with each layer by giving them more informative names than simply “Layer 1”, “Layer 2”, and so on. Double-click directly on the name “Background layer” in the layers palette and rename it to “curve”.



Tone curve is very essential to give a great tone in the photo. You can give your photo to any look by changing those tone curves. Now we want to give a good touch of contrast and highlight to our photo using the “Curve”. So we are going to work on “Curve”. So to select curve go to the option menu at the top. Select “Image” and then select “adjustment”. Now select “Curve”. A dialogue box will appear named as “Curve”. Here you can see a “Straight Line” which represents the whole RGB of your photo. Now here it’s showing RED, GREEN, BLUE particularly. Now we need to give a good contrast and also highlight. So for giving a good for good contrast I am going to make a “S” curve which will increase the contrast and give a better highlight on the photo.

Select “RGB” and make the “S” curve. The lower end of the curve shows the contrast of the picture, the top end of the curve shows the highlight of the picture. So when you will make move the top end of the curve downward you can see a huge difference of highlight. You move it to down, it will reduce the highlight and if you move it to left it will increase highlight.

Again when you move the lower end of the curve to the right it will increase contrast and if you move it upward, it will reduce the contrast and makes a fade effect on the photo.

You can also work on mid-tone of the photo by changing the middle portion of the curve. Moving the middle portion, it will increase brightness and moving it down will increase contrast. We need brightness and contrast both together. So we are going to make the “S” shape which will be very effective. Here is the result of my picture after curve toning.




In this layer we are going to sharpen the picture. To create the layer follow the previous steps and then name it as “Hard light”.


Now go to the “Filter” option at the top of the menu. Select “Other”, then select “high pass”.  A dialogue box will appear named “High pass”. I used radius 7 for mine. It may vary according to you, how sharp you want. Click “Ok”.


Now go to the blending menu in the layer dialogue box and select “Hard light”.


It also makes sharp the background of the photo. If you don’t want that much sharpness then go to the “Opacity” level and decrease it. But I think for my photo it’s quite good.


Flatten the layers. So you see how easy it is to put “Dragan effect” in your photo.

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